Sharing God's Mission

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(Genesis 18-19)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 4

Sharing God’s Mission

(Genesis 18-19)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: The past lessons in this series discuss the Holy Spirit working with us to accomplish God’s mission on earth. Have you considered God working in human form with you? Have you thought about angels who look like humans standing by your side? That happened to Abraham! This week we study an extended story about God and angels coming to earth in human form and rewarding Abraham by blessing him and protecting his family. We also explode some current myths. Let’s plunge into his amazing story about mission work with God in human form!

  1. The Visit
    1. Read Genesis 18:1. If you had your choice, where would you be sitting in the heat of the day? (The first good news is that Abraham is resting rather than working in the blazing heat. The second good news is that he is at the entrance to his tent where he would have shade and hopefully a breeze. The best good news is that God comes to visit him.)
    2. Read Genesis 18:2-3. We are told that God stood in front of Abraham in the form of a man. Do you think Abraham realized this was God?
      1. If you take the text literally, Abraham looks up and finds three men standing in front of him. Assuming Abraham was not sleeping, how could three men suddenly appear without Abraham seeing them walking toward him? (I think this is the reason why Abraham addresses a stranger as “O Lord.” The text says that Abraham “ran to meet them,” so they were not standing directly in front of Abraham.)
    3. In Genesis 18:4-8 Abraham orders that the feet of these men be washed, cakes be baked for them, a calf be sacrificed for them, and milk and curds be given to them. Do you think this is how Abraham greeted all those who passed by his tent? (Some commentators refer to this as the typical hospitality of men like Abraham. I’m doubtful that Abraham would address any stranger as “Lord,” which is his initial greeting in Genesis 18:3. Strong’s Dictionary says that this word was a proper name used only for God.)
    4. Read Genesis 18:13-14 and Genesis 19:1. What additional light does this cast on the three “men?” (One is God and the other two are angels. I don’t think this is a story about ordinary hospitality, I think this is a story of a man who is alert to the presence of God in his life.)
    5. Read Genesis 18:9-10. Why do you think God decided to deliver this message in person? Why not a vision or a dream? Why not an angel messenger? (This brings us to the heart of the visit. God has promised Abraham that he will be a great nation. The fulfillment of that promise has been delayed. God wants to personally bring this great news.)
      1. What lessons does this teach us about God? (As this story unfolds we will see how great God’s love is to Abraham.)
      2. What lessons about how we should treat God are present in the way Abraham received Him? (We should do all we can to make God welcome in our home.)
    6. Read Genesis 18:11-14. What lessons can we find in Sarah’s reaction? (Nothing is too hard for God. Nothing can stand between us and His love.)
  2. On to Sodom
    1. Read Genesis 18:16-19. Consider the reasoning of God as to why He would share the nature of the journey to Sodom. Why share with Abraham? (God gives two reasons. First, that Abraham is a very important figure for the future of God’s work on the earth. Second, that Abraham will be a leader in doing what is right to “command his children and his household.”)
      1. As this story unfolds, we see that it deals with a current controversy. Should this story guide how we command our children? Or, was that only something for Abraham?
    2. Read Genesis 18:20-21. What other lesson is here for Abraham and for us? (It shows God’s sense of justice. He will not execute judgment without personally confirming the facts.)
    3. Read Genesis 18:22-23. We are told Abraham “drew near” to God to have this conversation. What are we to conclude from this? (This paints a picture of a very personal discussion. It sounds like a confidential and important conversation.)
    4. Read Genesis 18:24-26. I just read the claim that Abraham made this proposal to God because of his love for all the people of Sodom. Is that what the Bible says? (It says nothing of the sort. Abraham argues that punishing the sinners in the city should not cause the death of the righteous.)
    5. Read Genesis 18:32-33. Abraham “negotiates” God down to protecting ten righteous people. What important lesson do we find in this? (If you are righteous, you can protect your city and your family. It shows the importance of God’s grace and our obedience.)
    6. I want to finish the story about God’s judgment of Sodom, so let’s skip down and read Genesis 19:12-13 and Genesis 19:15-16. How low was God willing to go to protect the righteous? (Abraham supposedly negotiated God down to ten righteous people, but here we see God intervening to save four reluctant righteous people. God was unwilling to have any righteous people be collateral damage in this judgment. Even “righteous” people who have to be dragged out of the city are saved.)
    7. We are going to read some, but not all of the rest of the story of Lot and his family. His wife immediately thereafter dies (Genesis 19:26) because of disobedience, and Lot and his daughters engage in a terrible sin (Genesis 19:30-38. Are these “righteous” people? (Read Genesis 19:29. This story is not about God’s love for the wicked, this story is about God’s love for Abraham. It is a story about how, if you are righteous, you can spare your family from harm.)
  3. The Story of Sodom’s Sin
    1. Read Genesis 19:1-2. Is Lot following in the footsteps of Abraham when he offers the two angels (who appear as men), a place to stay for the night? (Yes. Lot also calls them “lord,” but Strong’s says that this can refer to a human ruler. We will see next that Lot has a much more compelling reason to show kindness to these strangers.)
    2. Read Genesis 19:3-5. How evil is Sodom? (This says that all of the men of Sodom insisted on raping these men.)
    3. Read Genesis 19:6-8. Is Lot a horrid father? He will protect strangers over his own daughters based on his obligations of hospitality?
    4. Read Genesis 19:9-11. The men of Sodom reject Lot’s daughters and now say they want to give Lot worse treatment than the strangers. Did Lot correctly anticipate that these men would reject his virgin daughters? Was Lot outsmarting them, knowing that his daughters would be in no danger from these homosexuals? (The evidence in the story is that these men insisted on having sex with Lot rather than taking the offer of Lot’s daughters. That tells us that they had no interest in women.)
    5. Modern apologists for homosexuality argue that it was pride and inhospitality that was the reason for the destruction of Sodom. Let’s read Ezekiel 16:49-50 and Jude 1:7. Ezekiel says pride and a lack of concern for the poor were Sodom’s problem. Jude says sexual immorality and “unnatural desire” were the reason for punishment. Are pride and homosexuality linked today? (Have you heard of “Pride” parades?)
    6. Some readers may think, “What is wrong with Bruce, why does he focus on this sin when we are all sinners? Why does he talk about this issue when my son (or some other family member) is gay and is struggling with remaining in the church?” (The answer is that while we all struggle with sin, and all sin causes death, this particular sin is supported by a lobby whose goal is to break those institutions which will not endorse this sin. That is why the tip of the spear for religious liberty these days is defending against the homosexual lobby. There is not one overtly Christian law school in Canada because of the power of this lobby. Who defends the freedom of the people?)
    7. As those in the west stand in the middle of this spiritual battle, what is the overriding lesson to be learned from these chapters in Genesis? (God’s faithful people protect an evil society against the judgments of God. God loves His people. He will not sweep us away with the wicked. There is still time and hope to convert the unrighteous.)
    8. Friend, will you remain faithful to God? Will you protect your family by obeying God? Why not ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to give you a spirit of faithfulness?
  4. Next week: Excuses to Avoid Mission.